More than anything this year, the one running goal I had in mind was to beat my PR from last year’s Wisconsin Half Marathon. My time then was 2:11:52.
With my previous half marathon times this year being 2:21:58 (Livestrong Half, 2/19) and 2:15:35 (South Shore Half, 4/7), squeaking out a 2:11 seemed like a far way off. I knew I could get close, but I just wasn’t sure if I could get all the way there.
Last year, I was able to train injury-free for months leading up to the Wisconsin Half Marathon. This year, however, I battled some injuries and couldn’t push myself too hard until about 6 weeks ago. And as far as running 10 minute pace long runs? I was able to hold up that pace for the first half of my long runs, but by the last few miles, I would always slow down a lot and really feel the burn in all of my body. I was worried that if I couldn’t hold that pace in a training run, how could I hold it during the race?
I was crazy nervous right before the run started – muscles jumpy, stomach tight and churning, and mind racing. Could I do it? It would be hard and maybe suck a little, but I thought I could do it. Thanks to pep talks from the boyfriend about how hard I have been working, some inspirational videos online, and the happy crowd and friends’ cheering support along the way, I started the race with the 10 minute pace at the top of my mind and really believing in myself.
But, I was nervous after the first mile… I felt like I was going at a comfortable pace, but I was also boxed in with the race crowd, so my time ended up being about 10:30. Crap. I was going to have to make up that extra 30 seconds somehow during the race.
My right leg was also super tight, and my right quad felt like lead. I told myself it was just weird nerves and that the tightness would go away after a few miles, but it never loosened up. Finally at mile 5, I told myself that the crappy feeling wasn’t going away and I would just have to deal with it. So that’s what I did.
The race course looped around the downtown of Kenosha’s harbor and then up north by Carthage College along the lake, where you turned around and ran the same route back. I kept my eye out for some faster friends on their turn back, as well as my sister Brandi, who was running a 9:30 pace ahead of me. It made me happy to see her and my other friends, as well as some familiar faces cheering along the side of the road, so those distractions helped me get through the next couple of miles on pace and without thinking too much about how hard I was running to make sure I got my goal.
When I got to mile 9, I looked at my watch and realized, with 4 miles left, that I could get my PR if I kept up the pace and then picked it up a little bit for the last two miles. I got to mile 11, where one of my work friends did a jig in the street for me, all the while cheering me on. At this point, I was so focused that all I could do was watch and smile, but it helped so much! I had 2 miles to go, and this was where I had to make my move. I picked up the pace a little bit more and kept chugging along.
I got to mile 12, where you turned around and headed back to the finish line for the final mile. Accelerate! I picked up the pace even more and started passing people left and right, hoping that I wasn’t starting to kick too early. I got to the last quarter-mile and just gave it everything I had. I ran by my boyfriend and bro-in-law as they screamed at me that I had to get going to get my time. I heard some other people I knew cheering for me but I didn’t even look around – I kept staring forward at the finish line and ran as fast as I could.
Beep. I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and looked down.